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This came up in another thread, but I wanted to break it out on its own.
I really like backgrounds. When I'm making a character, they're a great prompt to think about something from my character's past and either jumpstart a backstory, or if I already have one, add something extra to it. My wife actually made a similar comment when she was making her first character earlier this week when she said that the backstory on it "started writing itself during creation".
So that's awesome! For AP themed backgrounds, it also gives both me and my DM an easy way to tie characters in to the story. For homebrew campaigns, they're also an easy point to add things to customize the world in a way that doesn't have major impact on the rules.
What I don't like is that if you want to not be mechanically penalized, you get severely constrained on backgrounds by the boosts you need. If a class only truly cares about one ability score, you're fine. If it cares about two, then you need to match things up and you lose a lot of options.
I think that could be done better. What if classes gave two boosts (to two abilities it wants instead of one) and when picking a background you simply get one free boost? That does two things:
1. Any background can go with any class, greatly expanding the options to tell stories
2. Classes that could only ever start with 18 in one ability will now have an option to start at 18 in one of two abilities, opening up some extra choice.
Thoughts? There might be better ways to do this, but I came up with moving it around this way to try and be as low impact on existing character creation rules as possible.
(Sidenote: my wife was very happy with character creation overall. More so than I am. She also had a much easier time with her first character than I did. While I was helping her, I also think that as a more casual player than I am, she didn't try to overthink things or plan ahead too much and her style seems to suit the system very well.)